TORONTO -- Scott Dixon will have an advantageous starting position in Race 2 of the Honda Indy Toronto to claim the $100,000 SONAX Perfect Finish Award.
That was made possible by a strong finish in Race 1.
Dixon, who started fifth in the 85-lap race on the tight 1.7-mile, 11-turn street circuit, overtook race leader Sebastien Bourdais on Lap 78 and held off the four-time CART champion on a Lap 84 single-file restart to earn his 31st victory to tie Bourdais, Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy for seventh on the all-time Indy car list.
"These doubleheaders are tough; we got through Race 1. Just a crazy day," said Dixon, who will earned the Verizon P1 Award in qualifications for Race 2 (2 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network) earlier in the day. "This is what we need to get the momentum going."
If Dixon sweeps the doubleheader weekend, he'll be presented a $100,000 SONAX Perfect Finish check.
The first standing start in IZOD IndyCar Series history was aborted when the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car driven by Josef Newgarden developed an engine sensor malfunction before all the cars were gridded and a rolling start was implemented. The 24 drivers will try it again in Race 2. Dixon will be joined on the front row by Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Franchitti.
Bourdais was 1.7007 seconds back for his best finish since rejoining Indy car racing in 2011 in the No. 7 Dragon Racing car. Bourdais' last victory was at Mexico City in 2007.
Franchitti, who earned the Verizon P1 Award in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, was informed while standing on the podium that he was assessed a 25-second blocking penalty on the final lap that dropped him to 13th. Following a meeting with IZOD IndyCar Series officials, in which telemetry data and video was reviewed, Franchitti's second consecutive third-place finish was reinstated.
Helio Castroneves, the championship points front-runner entering the 12th event of the season, increased his lead from 23 points to 39 with a sixth-place finish in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske car combined with Ryan Hunter-Reay's 18th place. Hunter-Reay encountered a string of problems, including stalling the No. 1 DHL car twice leaving his pit box and making contact with the Turn 3 tire barrier on Lap 79.
“Not an ideal day. We had two stalls in the pit lane and then were making some moves, making our way up on track, and then racing with E.J. (Viso) there I just got held down in the marbles on the inside and collected all that stuff on my tires," said Hunter-Reay, who won in 2012 on the streets of Toronto. "I came down into (Turn) 3 and locked up the right side.
"A frustrating afternoon, but I hope we can regroup overnight and improve on the car. I didn’t feel confident at all under braking today and had some issues with it. The four cars, we’ll put our heads together and hopefully come out a better team tomorrow.”
Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti finished fourth and Tony Kanaan was fifth.
Dixon had been pressuring Bourdais, who was on the Firestone alternate tires that trade off more grip on roads/streets for shorter tire life, since a Lap 69 restart. He was .3009 of a second behind Bourdais on Lap 77 and used his penultimate push to pass exiting Turn 2 to make the overtake stick.
"We started on primary tires and I think it was the wrong thing to do because everybody else was on (alternates)," Bourdais said. "It turned out to be the right thing to do, only to turn out not be the right thing to do at the end. I think the temperature rise tipped the reds over the edge. It was the perfect tire for most of the weekend, so far the whole weekend, and it changed during the race."
Dixon pulled away on the final restart for his first victory in Toronto.
"It’s been a rough start to the year; we definitely hit a bit of a stride right now," said Dixon, who moved from fourth to third in the standings. "All we need to do is keep it going a little bit longer. I’ve got to thank Team Target, they seemed to get everything right in the pit stops. The car was fantastic. So happy right now to get a couple of wins this season and make a run for the championship."
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